How Kellyanne Conway became the greatest spin doctor in modern American history

How does she do it? Let's examine faux frankness, ice queening, cool girling, impatience signaling, and more of Conway's go-to strategies.

The many faces of Kellyanne Conway.
(Image credit: CBS via Twitter)

In the few short months since she entered President Donald Trump's inner circle, Kellyanne Conway has mastered the art of message-muddying. As Trump's campaign manager, Conway frequently appeared on news programs to spin something objectionable Trump said. She was uncommonly good at it, but over time, a pattern emerged: There was (perhaps by design) no message consistency between Conway and Trump. He would frequently contradict her, and she would have to mop up the mess. At this, she is incredibly adept — perhaps the best ever.

But in her expanded role in Trump's White House, Conway has run into some difficulties. Her attempt to rebrand Press Secretary Sean Spicer's lies about crowd size at the inauguration as "alternative facts," for example, was (to put it gently) poorly received. Her public image has drifted from that of a reasonable woman doing an impossible job to something closer to SNL's portrayal of her as a latter-day Roxie Hart. And her ability to sow confusion, coupled with her sporadic assertions that she's not privy to Trump's thinking, has led some journalists to propose that networks stop interviewing her.

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Lili Loofbourow

Lili Loofbourow is the culture critic at She's also a special correspondent for the Los Angeles Review of Books and an editor for Beyond Criticism, a Bloomsbury Academic series dedicated to formally experimental criticism. Her writing has appeared in a variety of venues including The Guardian, Salon, The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, and Slate.